Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Catching Up 2015

I was punching around on old browser links today, making a small effort to clean up my work space A.K.A. my computer. I came to this blog (that I’ve had for over a decade now) and noticed that I’ve not posted here in over a year and a half. A lot has happened and a lot has changed. I’m going to post a few things to catch up:

My last post was about my brother Glenn’s cancer. That diagnosis was only 3 weeks old when I wrote that post. Since then he has had an operation to remove the cancer (13 hours), chemo and radiation to get anything that was left, and he’s been through many months of therapy and recovery. I’m glad to write that is doing great, eating well, working full-time, and enjoying life to its fullest. Here is a picture from surgery day. Check out his Facebook for more recent stuff he doesn't mind you seeing.

In July we lost our ‘little girl’ Wrigley (3rd post below). In December of 2012, we added a new member of the family named Comiskey. She was a little bundle of energy who loved to play with Fenway. She is now a healthy and happy 2 year old. In April of last year we had to say a tearful goodbye to Fenway. He was our big boy and our first dog together. He did a good job of showing Comiskey the ropes and did his best despite failing health. Here's to Fenway.


It took Dr. K about an hour to mention the possibility of getting a new brother for “Miskey.” So in November we received a special shipment from Texas named Dodger. Miskey is the greatest sister a little brother dog could ask for. She is patient beyond measure and watches out for her brother non-stop. Even when they are at doggie daycare, if one of them barks, the other has to know what is going on.

Dodger is now 16 weeks old and weighs 34 pounds. He too is happy and healthy. He’s not very good at sleeping through the night as yet, but Dr. K has made great progress in that regard. So to summarize the dog situation, we lost Fenway and Wrigley and gained Comiskey and Dodger. Here's a picture of them both from January 2015.

I noticed in the blog that I’ve said nothing about Crossfit. My friends will likely tell you that this is the only place I’ve not mentioned Crossfit. Sorry about that. I’m trying to do better, but the changes that it has made in me are remarkable. I’m not going to carry on too much here, but I feel great, can pole vault again, have done 3 Tough Mudders, and cut 6 minutes off my best half marathon time. I’ve given myself 3 injuries that have hampered my workouts since starting CF. None of the injuries were from CF. I can’t speak for all boxes, but Ultimate Crossfit is great.

Dr. K got her some new wheels. She has a trainer and is working out regularly. We both continue doing the same jobs and living in the same house. When thinks are good, we try not to mess them up.
I think that sums up the major changes. Check out my Facebook for details and check back here in another 18 months (maybe sooner) for another update. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Brother has Cancer

My brother has cancer

There are no two ways to start this post. I have to just get it out there. For those who know my family, I’m referring to my older brother Glenn.  He has throat cancer. His cancer blog, he writes that it is “stage 4 squamous cell cancer of the tongue and throat.  It is active on both sides of my neck, from my head to the base of my neck.”
It was a shock when he called with the news almost 3 weeks ago.  Since then he has been to doctors in Colorado and Arizona.  Friday is surgery day at the Mayo Hospital in Phoenix.  I’m traveling to AZ to be with him, his wife, and son during the procedure. My younger brother and his wife will be there as well. I hope that makes whatever happens next a little easier.

More information is available on his website https://www.mylifeline.org/glennkrumel/.  This is also where updates will be posted. If you register on the site, it will send you email notifications when updates are available.

My Grandfather, Dad, Father-in-law, 2 cousins, and an aunt all died from cancer. Another uncle and his wife have had cancer and have beaten it so far, so this isn’t the first time through for us. It is, however, the first time for our generation and it sucks (stating the obvious, I know).
My ask to you is to please do whatever you feel may help.  Prayers help.  Post a note, story, or picture on the site. That’s what it needed right now. I’m sure more will be needed later. Thank everyone for your concern.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A True Story of Yellowstone, Cameron Diaz, WPBT, and one Small World

Sometimes, thing happen in our lives that become the stories we tell over and over. They are the unplanned, unexpected things that happen because we were in a certain place at a certain time. Some are momentous events like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. Most are small personal moments that others in the area may not have noticed. I’m sure we all have a few of these in our past.

One of mine happened in Yellowstone National Park in 2004 and took a twist two weeks ago. I’ll explain.

My wife and I were on vacation. It was the first trip to Yellowstone for both of us. We were knocked out by the scenery and the wildlife and the geysers, etc. I was packing the brand new digital SLR I had bought with this trip in mind, so I was being a picture taking fool. On the third day we happened into an area of the park named Hayden Valley. The valley is filled with rolling green pastures set between craggy grey mountains.

Near one parking area we saw a group of bison that included a few baby bison (which is more fun to say than “young bison”). There were also a couple of trucks at one end of the parking lot with what looked like a film crew buzzing around. Both the wife and I spent some time in the TV business, so we were more interested in staying out of their way than gawking, so we parked at the other end of the lot and I got out to take some pictures of the bison.

In front of our car was about 5 feet of walking area before a slope dropped down about 8 feet to the meadow. I was standing about 2 to 3 feet from the edge where I felt like someone walking past me could easily go behind me to avoid the slope or disturbing my shot. Well, the TV crew had decided to set up in the meadow off the far end of the parking lot from where they had parked which meant that they would be walking past me and my wife who was still in the car.

For a reason that I would find out much later, they all decided to walk in front of me. There was no hesitation or apology from a single one. I now think this was done out of spite, but not spite for me, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Not being one to take this without a fight, I looked for a break in their line and stepped forward at the first opening forcing the remainder of them to go behind me or tumble down the hill. Problem solved.

So I take some time snapping a few bison pictures and then notice the crew filming this one guy in a blue jacket and I think I should get a shot of them since they were now a part of our vacation. I take a picture, check the picture for exposure, make an adjustment and come up to take another shot. That’s when the head of a ‘lady’ from the crew fills my lens as she’s walking my way. I look around my raised camera and say “excuse me” with some irritation. That’s when things started to get interesting.

She starts to tell me that I can’t take pictures of the crew when a park ranger comes out of nowhere and tells her that she can’t tell me what I can and can’t take pictures of and that it is my park as well as theirs. Now I’m intrigued as to what I’ve stumbled upon. I think, “Who is that guy? It’s obviously someone important, otherwise why would they object to my taking pictures?” The guy looks kind of like a balding, overweight Alan Alda to me. He is surrounded by a girl dressed like a roadie, a guy with a still camera that looks out of place and various other members of the crew. I take a couple more pictures, especially of the star and the crew for later identification.

By now, another member of the crew is wondering why the lady, who is now standing beside me, is not stopping me. They are filming, so he can’t yell to us/at me, so he waves his arms like he’s trying to stop a plane from landing and I wave back in my best mocking style. My wife told me later that there were some big dudes behind our car talking into microphones in their sleeves and acting a little aggressive. I never saw them. The park ranger sees the escalation of tempers and says “That’s it. You have to go.” But she didn’t say it to me. She said it to the film crew.

By now, my wife is getting a little worried and asks/tells me to get in the car. We are left to wonder what had just happened. Who was that guy and why were they so pissed off at me? We laughed and put our book on tape back in the player. The book happened to be Phillip Margolin’s “Ties that Bind” which features a preppy gang of three men who grow up to control a town. In the book, the gang was known as the “Vaughn Street Glee Club.” We immediately named the film crew the “Hayden Valley Glee Club” and spend the rest of the day trying to figure out who that guy was.

Well, we ran into the HVGC the next day at a location were wolves were supposed to be visible. We didn’t see any, but as my wife stood among other tourist, some of the film crew members walk past and one tourist says “there goes Cameron Diaz.” Neither of us is real up on pop culture, so my wife asks “Carmen who?” To this day she still has to double check herself to say Cameron instead of Carmen. (I later find out that they were filming “Trippin’ with Cameron Diaz” for MTV) So we finally figured out what the big deal had been the previous day and we never saw the Haden Valley Glee Club again. Well, that is until two weeks ago.

On the first night of the World Poker Blogger Tour weekend (which would take a whole other post to explain), I made a trip to the Excalibur to meet and play poker with the man who had put together our Tough Mudder team for the September Lake Tahoe event (http://toughmudder.com/events/norcal-tahoe-2012/) but had to drop out due to a work related opportunity. I won’t mention his name, but those who read this and know him will recognize him in the photo below. I’ll call him Nick. So I meet Nick and the blogger crew that was with him and we fill up a new table to play some hold ‘em. As we chat, I mention that Paula Broadwell (Petreaus’ ex) lives in my neighborhood and I had gone over to her house to see the FBI raid and the news crews and paparazzi which led to the story about the Hayden Valley Glee Club and the time I was mistaken for a paparazzo. That’s when Nick turns and asks me if Cameron and crew were filming “Trippin’”. Well, it turns out that Nick was a member of the crew. Once I returned home and pulled out the old pictures I knew that Nick had been the guy that was ‘waving’ me off.

Here’s the best of the old pictures from that day. Nick is in there as is Cameron Diaz hiding her face in her jacket collar, the guy I thought was the star (Tom Murphy), and BMX pro Mat Huffman with his back to the camera. It is now a classic for me.


So Nick has gone from a villain in my mind to a really cool guy. I hope he gets a laugh out of the picture and this story as he’s reading. I can understand how folks in this line of work would loath the paparazzi as parasites on their work, thus the hostility toward me that day in 2004. Two weeks later, Cameron and her boyfriend Justin ‘beat up’ a paparazzo and took his camera which made tabloid headlines. I may have come close to being that paparazzo. I’m glad Justin wasn’t there.

If there is a moral to the story, it is to keep in mind how small the world is getting and to treat people like friends in your future. They just may be.

Monday, July 09, 2012

One of the best dogs… Ever!

Our little girl, Wrigley, went to doggie heaven on Saturday.  She fought bravely and held on as long as she could.  She knew it would hurt Dr. K terribly when she passed and Wrigley was so loyal to Dr. K that she made it as easy on us as she could. 

Below are some of the pictures I took of her.  May she have up-up time forevermore.





Wrigley 2003-2012

May she have up-up time forevermore.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Things that made me chuckle today

I’ve never seen anything like it before.  I was in the men’s room where I’m working this week and they had a solar powered control valve on the auto-flushing urinal.  I get the feeling that someday, these will be everywhere.  Now I’ll remember the day I saw my first one.  Yay.

I was sitting in a German restaurant in Newport News.  It’s a small place that looks like less than it is on the outside.  Only two tables were taken and one of them was mine, so ignoring the conversation at the other table was impossible.  Two couples in the 70s were chatting and one of the old guys was saying shit just to keep the air occupied.  At one point he extolled the greatness of his beer by saying “you can’t buy beer like this over here” as he enjoyed the beer he had just bought… over here.

Later, I heard the same man explain how it was interesting that the waitress in the German restaurant had been to Germany, just like him.  He said “it a small world that she was in Germany 30 years after me.”  His world is small indeed, but fun.

Another good day.  Tchuss.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I’m back and Impressions of Alaska

As I’ve written a few times before, I’ve been away from this blog for a while. There will be no apologies though.  I write for myself when I feel like writing.  Few of my friends read what I post, but they do so at their own risk. Occasionally, I’ll write something to put mark what I think and when I was thinking it, or something that is longer that fits into Facebook or Twitter that I can point anyone interested toward.  The truth is that I’ve just not felt like writing recently.  Life has been very busy with fun adventures and activities, but I’ve not been able or I’ve not wanted to write about them in public.  Life continues to be good.  My mood or physical heath haven’t changed markedly over the past few months.  The biggest thing that has changed to get me back to writing here is that I feel like it.  So until my mood changes again, here goes.

As I write this, I’m finishing up a business trip to Alaska and I’m on a 777 between Seattle and Tokyo, Japan.  This trip to Alaska was my first.  I’ve now been to 47 states.  I still have not been to a Dakota or Nebraska.  My employer has a big support site in North Dakota, so that might get me to that state sometime.  I have no idea why I would end up in SD or NB, but I never thought I ‘d go to Afghanistan, and that happened, so we’ll see.

It sounds like bad luck that my first trip to AK would come in February, or that I’d go to the interior of the state where temperatures run 20 degrees colder than Anchorage.  Now that the visit is done, I’m not sure myself.  Yes, it was cold.  Two weeks before my visit, lows in Fairbanks were hitting –50 F and highs were –10 or –20F.  I got lucky that I visited during a winter heat wave.  Highs almost got up to 20 F and lows got as low as –5 F.  It was cold, but could have been much more challenging.

Driving was a challenge.  The roads were covered in snow and ice.  I’m a southern boy.  I don’t get much practice at this type of driving.  Silly me, I was thinking that they get snow and ice all the time and would have it cleared so long as the snow was not falling.  Not so.  I guess there is really nothing you can do when the freeze is solid for months at a time.  There was a light at the main road near my hotel where I had to turn left.  The turn was protected by a turn light, but the road was so slick that I couldn’t get the car through the intersection before the light turned yellow.  Some snow fell and my car slid a few times, but I didn’t get stuck or hit anyone or anything. The rental car was returned unharmed and I was glad to get that done.

A few other things were unexpected about AK.  Snowmobiles are called Snow Machines.  There was/is a big 2000 mile snow machine race going on across the state, The Iron Dog.”  The speed and distance sounded insane to me, but there were daily updates on the radio and in the newspapers, so this is real sport in AK.  Another sport that I heard about that I did not get a chance to try was Moose Turd Bowling.  I asked some of the locals about it, and it is exactly what it sounds like.  Luckily, it is strictly a winter outdoor sport.  The summer or indoor MTB champ would have both my respect and disgust.

The last and lasting impression of AK was the people I met.  I didn’t meet a single Alaskan that was not exceptionally friendly.  When I met a waitress at a restaurant, her hello sounded like she was talking to me instead of at me as I’ve come to expect.  The gas station attendant stood at my window and chatted while the car filled with gas.  I am perplexed why people would like living there in the cold and snow, but I’m equally impressed with the people in AK.  Perhaps latter has a lot to do with the former.

Thanks Alaska.  I think my trip had a lot of good luck.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trip to Germany

I had quite a trip to Germany this month.  I just returned and I’m still recovering a bit, so I won’t write a whole lot about the trip.  I’ll let some of the best pictures and their captions tell the stories.


This is from the center city park in Stuttgart.  Touring this park early in the day helped me to get back to the train station late that night.  Hint: When in Stuttgart, don’t rely on the trains to get you home after 1 am.


Roman Ruins - Trier, Germany.


Old Town – Trier, Germany


Kurfurstliches Palace – Trier, Germany



Spa de Casino – Spa, Belgium.  This casino bills itself as “The oldest casino of the World (1763)”


A blurry picture of a restaurant with a funny name.  Spa, Belgium.



The Philosopher's Walk, Heidelberg, Germany


High above Heidelberg


The Heidelberg Castle


Near Mittenwald, Germany.


Neuschwanstein Castle


Neuschwanstein again.

DSC_2529 Stitch

The view from Neuschwanstein Castle



Hohenschwangau Castle from Neuschwanstein Castle


I love horse fountains with water coming out of their noses. Linderhof Castle


Linderhof Castle


Near Mittenwald, Germany


Near Mittenwald, Germany


Mittenwald, Germany


The rest of the shots are from the Munich Oktoberfest:


Fish on Sticks











Obviously, we didn’t know what to expect from this trip, but we sure did have a blast. Check another line on the life list.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


This week, David, a friend from many years ago lost his dad.  We are all getting older that this sort of thing is happening more and more. 

Also this week, my friend Brad penned another blog post that took be three days to get up the nerve to read.  He has a way of jerking moisture from around my eyes, so I have to prepare.  You can read about promises here: http://www.rapideyereality.com/archives/2011/07/25/promises/.  I didn’t cry this time, but it was still a good read.

On Friday, Dr. K and I will ride our bikes hundreds of miles in the 24 Hours of Booty charity bike ride to raise money that will defeat the bastard disease (brain cancer) that killed her dad 4 years ago.

I’ve got no point except that it is good to sit and think about all of the great dads and the great things that they do.

If you’ve got a few bucks and want to help, http://www.24hoursofbooty.org/site/TR/Bike/General?px=1069905&pg=personal&fr_id=1150


The National Debt and Fun with Graphs

There’s a lot of talk out there about the national debt and who is to blame for creating it and who will get credit for fixing it.  We can be sure the president will take credit for fixing it.  True to form, he is blaming Bush for creating it.  You haven’t heard that?  Well take a look at this graph from Whitehouse.gov:

U.S. National Debt

Even the liberal friend who pointed me to it said that it was a bit disingenuous in how it pins spending on Bush that happened during the Obama administration.  They call them lies when a Republican does it.

That got me looking around for other graphs about the national debt.  How about this one from saintpetersblog.com:

This one ties increases to the debt to presidents.  Notice that there is no mention about who is running the House of Representatives at the time.  It conveniently stops before Obama took office.

Those first two were obviously written by Democrats.  Here is one that is a little more balances in that it shows the make up of the federal government at the time and percentage changes.  It still leans Republican in that it does not use real dollars and compare the change to the S&P 500 as if that has any place in the debate.  It also includes the Obama years so far.

Here’s a funny one from democrashield.com:

This one ties the debt to the President and the Senate and completely ignores the branch of government that is in charge of spending.

Finally, I think this graph is the most balanced and the one that matters most:

That looks bad.  Now if you consider that only half of the adults in the US pay any income tax (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36226444/ns/business-personal_finance/t/half-us-pays-no-federal-income-tax/) and you can double the totals on the graph’s left to tell you how much taxpayers will have to pay back eventually.  Raising taxes (income enhancement to Democrats) isn’t going to get us close to getting this problem under control.  The balanced approach is a shame designed to help the half that do not pay income tax.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Workout Update for Q2

Just the fact that I’m still tracking my workouts 6 months into the year is a small cause for celebration.  I thought I would start skipping a few entries and then pitch the whole idea after a few months.  Not so.  I really enjoy seeing how much I have done.

Now for the downside.  I’d like to be seeing more progress.  I saw some progress in the first quarter, but I think I’ve stepped back from even those small gains.  Illness and a rough travel schedule caused a four week layoff from any meaningful workouts for the last 2 weeks of Q2 and the first 2 weeks of Q3.  Consistency was also not a high point for this quarter.  Running decreased, but biking came out of the closet and kept the workout time in each month between 7:45 and 9:30.

So here are the totals:

I ran 108.3 miles in 15 hours and 9 minutes for the quarter and 308 miles in 43 hours in the first half.

I biked 172 miles in 10 hours and 21 minutes in this quarter.

I picked my next goal which is to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon on Sunday, December 4, 2011.  It happens to be the weekend of the WPBT (aka Blogger Weekend) and several of my blogger friends also plan to participate.  It should be the capper to another great Vegas weekend.  Of course, there is also the 24 Hours of Booty charity bike ride at the end of this month and I’m still hoping that I can gather up enough fitness to do the Take Flight Tryathlon for the third year.  I’m really busting my workout volume right now.  It’s time to get going or get out of the way.

See you out on the road.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Special K–Senior Citizen

On Friday June 17, 2011, I will officially become a senior citizen.  That is the day that I begin (and end?) play in event 30 of the World Series of Poker, The Seniors event (must be 50 to enter).  I wonder if all senior citizens feel too young to be this old. Smile  I’m looking forward to getting my chips in and having fun with the whole experience.  Dr. K was good to remind me that having fun was the goal.  My friends Jim the Knife, Tom Scott, and David Westbay will also be playing and I wish them all the luck in the world.  Having friends along for the ride definitely adds to the fun. 

The last time I played in a poker tournament, I was out before the end of the first level.  The first goal is to have fun.  The second goal is to last longer than I did in the last tournament.  I could sit in the hallway at the Rio for the first hour and watch people and make the first two goals.  After that, I’ll have to be content to do my best and hope the cards are kind.  I’ll tweet when I can, so follow @CKrumel for live updates starting Friday.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Palin and Revere

I am totally fascinated by the controversy over Sarah Palin’s comment about the ride of Paul Revere.

First off, I have no need to defend Sarah Palin. She’s a big girl now. She’s riding around the country in her bus, looking for and getting attention, so she asked for moments like this.

At the suggestion of a friend whom I respect very much, I watched the clip again. This one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8koxCWVwTlg. Palin’s statement does lack some pronouns.

Some have criticized her for not even answering the question  by giving her take on the ride of Revere. She was asked about her take-away from "this trip."  She pretty obviously interpreted “this trip” to be the trip to Revere's house (where she was at the time) and not the trip to Boston or the trip around the country. She did not only talk about the ride, be started the answer talking about seeing where Revere “hung out as a teenager.” No biggie there.

As for the ride description and motivation, yes, it is a muddled sentence. Here is what she said: “And you know, he who warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure, as he is riding his horse through town, to send those warning shots and bells, that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

Just how far would that sentence have to be edited for it to be accurate and coherent? Let’s see:

“And you know, he [who] warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms[,]. [b]By having colonists ring[ing] those bells and making sure everyone knew about the British [by ], as he [is riding] rode his horse through town, and to send those warning shots and ring the bells, that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

I had to take out two words, change the tense of two words/phrases and a punctuation mark, and add 12 words. I don’t think I’ve changed the gist of what she was saying though I’ll grant that some will think I have. I don’t have a problem with that.  Is the statement poor?  Yep.  Is it wrong.  I wouldn’t go that far.

He didn't ring bells or fire shots. He was out to tell others to ring bells and fire shots. I didn't know that before this controversy hit and I’m pretty well educated in history.  I don’t thing most of the critics knew that either. And he did warn the British. It was a bluff once he had been captured. In contrast, the reporter in the clip above ends his piece by telling his audience that there were no bells and that lanterns were used to warn the colonists about the British. It was the opposite of Palin’s comment; a good sentence and completely wrong. There were in fact bells being rung that night to warn the colonists about the emergency. Today, we use Twitter and Facebook for that. The lanterns didn’t warn the colonists as the reporter said. They sent info to Revere and his fellow rider so that they could warn the colonists. Revere and William Dawes went out to do the warning. Smug reporter.

There were a lot of facts in what Palin was trying to say that most people didn’t know. So why has the controversy gone on so long. There are plenty of fact-check reports and articles out there that spin the history one way or the other but most have the facts as I’ve written them here. There should probably be more controversy over teaching our children Longfellow’s poem about the ride and the appalling lies therein. (Longfellow’s Grandfather found Revere to be a coward)

My theory is that once folks publically jumped on Palin for what they thought were gross inaccuracies, whether they were broadcasting, writing on the internet or just around the water cooler at work, they became invested in making this a “stupid Palin moment.” To admit that it wasn’t as bad as they first thought would damage their pride and potentially give Palin a break. For liberal Democrat, this last bit would be worse than Reagan returning from the dead.

Finally, I know what is coming in the comments, so before I’m written off as another right-wing nut (evidence for that can be found elsewhere) or a Palin lover, I want to point out that I’ve publicly defended Joe Biden along these same lines here.

It’s not worth much as theories go, but it entertains me.  So there.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The ‘Glamor’ of Traveling (Part 2)

(See part 1 for the forestory) It’s now day two of my one hour flight to Huntsville, Alabama.  We just boarded half of the plane when the pilot came on the PA to announce that a problem that they thought had been fixed had really not been fixed.  After some confusion on the part of the crew, we de-boarded the plane.  It took about 30 minutes for them to decide that the plane was not fixable and that they would fly the route with a plane that had 20 fewer seats.

Now they need to find a way to boot 18 folks from the flight and so they ask for volunteers.  After considering the $175 in voucher money they were offering and the fact that I could now change to another city, one that would have rental cars, I decided to take the offer and give up my seat.  This would prove to be a winning move.

I consulted my Windows Phone 7 Map application and saw that Huntsville is close to equidistant from Nashville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, and Birmingham, AL.  I had to pick one and I chose Nashville.  I got to the gate and called Avis for a rental car reservation.  Unbelievably, they also had no cars to rent.  As the Nashville flight was now starting to board, I had to high-tail it to US Airways customer service to get yet another change. 

This time I guessed Birmingham.  I got that ticket and headed off to call Avis back.  This time cars were available.  I got my reservation and then I thought of something that I’d forgotten.  I now needed to push my return flight back by a day.  Back to Customer Service go I.  The girl behind the counter said she could do that for only a $150 change fee and that there was no way the system would let her do it for free.  I calmly (really, those who know me would have been shocked) explained that this was due to 2 mechanical failures and that it was going to be free.  I told her the whole story.  She asked if I had my original boarding pass, which I did, and she made the change.  Funny, I thought the system… oh, never mind.  I had won so I left winner. (It was at this point in the day that I penned part 1 of this tale, so I didn’t know how much more ‘adventure’ was to come.)

From that point on, the trip went without a hitch.  I did have a 2 hour drive once I got the Birmingham, but the roads were clear and the sailing smooth.  I arrived at my hotel around 8 pm and prepared for the site visit.  I’ve now completed day one of 3 at the customer site and I’m hoping I can keep this trip running smoothly until I return home of Friday.  If not, there will be a part 3.

Happy Trails.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The ‘Glamor’ of Traveling

For the American worker who slaves away at a job, doing the same thing in the same place for 5 days and week, the life of us who travel as a part of our jobs must seem interesting and glamorous.  I’ve posted over on Facebook how it is truly interesting, but in a proverbial Chinese sort of way.  As for glamorous, it is not.  Consider that I’m now sitting on the floor of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport writing this here post instead of doing the work that I was scheduled to do today.  I’m not doing the work because I’ve been trying to get to Huntsville, Alabama for over 24 hours now.  I’m not saying it’s better to work at the same place everyday, just that each job has its challenges.  Today, I’m being challenged, and how.

It is only a seven hour drive to Huntsville, so I could have driven yesterday and gotten there on time, but I could not foresee the future.  In short, I arrived at the airport yesterday afternoon for a 6 o’clock flight that takes about an hour.  As we were boarding the plane I noticed the interior lights in the plane flickered and then came on full.  I commented to my neighbor that the lights didn’t add a lot of confidence for the flight.  Sometime later the pilot came on the intercom and told us that the flickering lights was actually a circuit overload that they needed to get checked out.

It took about 30 minutes to get the checks done.  Nothing was really wrong and we were good to go.  Just as we were ready to push back, a thunderstorm closed the tarmac and we could not move until it was reopened.  There was some excitement when one plane at the airport was struck by lightning.  That was cool.  I’ll bet they did have an overload.

It took about 45 minutes for the storm to blow over.  We pushed back and headed for the runway.  Once there we pulled to the side and the pilot told us that we were to be rerouted due to other storms in our path and that calculations had to be made to determine if we had enough fuel.  That’s important, I guess.  Then we were scheduled on a different runway.  Then the fuel calculation for the new, way-northerly route came back as insufficient.  But by this time the old route was clear, but we had idled away too much fuel and had to go get more.  But that would take too long for either the crew to make the trip or for the airline to avoid paying us hefty fines.  That wasn’t very clear.  What was clear was that our flight was cancelled.

Rebooking went reasonably well and I was back home by 9 pm with a ticket for today.  Before I went to bed, I called the hotel to let them know I was still coming, I’d just be a day late.  They were cool about that.  Why not. They get paid the same whether I show up or not.  Then I went to change my rental car reservation.  The problem was that they (Avis) had no cars to rent.  NONE.  I didn’t believe the web site so I called Avis.  It was true – no cars, trucks, busses, nothing.  I checked the other rental car companies at the Huntsville airport and they all were out of cars.  Carp. (Carp is funnier than crap right now).  I did find a reservation at the Enterprise rental office in Huntsville and figured I ‘d take a cab to get that car and figure out how to get it back and get to the airport later.

I returned to the airport around 1 this afternoon, waited to board the plane, boarded, and got ready to fly.  That didn’t happen either. (Part 2 coming soon)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Headline

Continuing on yesterday’s theme, this headline reminded me of an old joke:

"Bahrain Police Open Fire on Funeral Procession Leaving One Dead"--headline, Guardian (London), Feb. 16

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recent Headlines

Since the news from Egypt has cooled a bit, I guess the press has moved on to other stories.  Here are a few recent headlines that I found humorous:

"Why You Should Avoid Getting Pregnant on the Way to Mars"--headline, Guardian (London), Feb. 14

"'Mars' Mission Reaches Climax in a Giant Sand Pit"--headline, Daily Telegraph (London), Feb. 15

That takes care of item 1.

"Light-Emitting Rubber Could Sense Structural Damage"--headline, TechnologyReview.com, Feb. 15

… and that takes care of all other missions.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Airport Bombing

So does the TSA groping still make you feel safe? Ask the poor souls in this video.  There’s no reason it won’t happen in the US.  I hope this bomb maker blows his face off soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I’ve got a bit of ‘splanin to do

That’s because it’s been since October since I’ve done a real blog post.  It’s not that nothing blog worthy has happened. A lot has happened, actually.  It’s just that I haven’t felt like writing it up and since I don’t make any money or make any promises about posting, I just didn’t.  So let’s see what I remember.

My job kept me on the road after the October triathlon.  I’ve traveled to Germany, Vegas, St. Louis, Vegas (again), St. Louis (again), G-Vegas, DC, and Charleston, SC.  The Germany trip was to upgrade a customers database server.  It took a 24 hour work day (my first ever), but we hit the planned return to service time and the customer has invited me back.  I don’t have any problem with that. 

The first trip to Vegas was for the celebration of my 50th birthday.  I’m still not used to being that old, but so be it.  That trip was awesome.  Most of the folks that I really wanted there made it.  We had incredible dinner at the Hofbrauhaus on Thursday, followed by another incredible dinner Carnevino in the Palazzo, followed by the Cher show at Caesar's on Saturday.  There was some gambling in between with a good session of blackjack, a bad session of pai gow, and lot’s of poker.  Dr. K and I got in a couple of good workouts in the beatuiful fitness spa of the Venetian (where we stayed courtesy of Skoon and Brian the Red) and a visit with my younger brother and Dr. K’s aunt.  Though I ended up on the negative end for gambling, it was my best trip to Vegas ever.

The first trip to St. Louis was for work and nothing real special on that.  I did play some poker at Lumiere Place and River City, both times with poor outcomes, and stayed right downtown near the arch and Busch Stadium.  That was fun.


The second trip to Vegas was for the World Poker Blogger Tour (WPBT).  Seeing that bunch of degens just gets better and better the more times we get together.  The gambling hit a new low as I posted my biggest Vegas loss ever, but I’d do it again.  If I’ve got the resources, I will.

The second trip to St. Louis is probably best forgotten.  I was to present two days of training, but the customer’s folks only showed for 1 of the 4 sessions due to poor weather and general disinterest.  Too bad.  I had some good stuff planned.  I stayed and played at the Harrah’s Hotel and Casino.  My losses continued to mount this trip as well (are you seeing a trend here), so I’ll just move on.

G-Vegas brings us up to the new year and actually New Years Day and the BadBlood New Year’s Tourney.  You can hear all about it on the Gambling Tales Podcast, but the gory details are that I got my money in good and didn’t win any of the significant hands that I needed to post another big loss.  I’ve had good luck and bad luck in G-Vegas.  I’ll try again soon.

Finally, the trip to DC was interesting.  I think that will make for a good blog post of it’s own as that memory is fresh from last week.  I’ll break out this weekend’s trip to Charleston as well.

As for other highlights from the past quarter – Thanksgiving and Christmas were good with family and friends healthy and doing well.  Dr. K lost a bet with her nephew (a Clemson fan) and went over the top in paying off as the picture shows.


The two pictures in this post were taken with my new Windows Phone 7 which really kicksass.  I won’t say that it’s better than the other smart phones (iPhone, Driod), but it holds it’ own with a lot of potential yet to come.

That’s most of the highlights.  There are trips to Seattle, Colorado Springs and San Antonio in the near future.  I’ll try to do better at keeping up.